One Nation, One Law

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India is known as a very diverse country where people differ in tastes, customs religions, and many more things. In order to accommodate such different citizens, our Constitution makers agreed that every community must be governed by different laws based on their customs and beliefs.

This system worked out well in the beginning but the laws were challenged in 1985 in the historic Shah Bano case where a woman belonging to the Muslim community was divorced after 40 years of marriage. She sought maintenance from her husband. This case brought forward the concept of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to be followed throughout India irrespective of a persons religion.

UCC is applicable to Article 44 of the Indian constitution. It proposes that all personal laws governing the religious communities should be replaced with a set of common laws. As of now, UCC has been enforced only in Goa.

While the UCC sounds like a really good idea, in theory, reality begs to differ. In a country like India where fights break out when someone tries to tell you which Khan is better, imagine the uproar the UCC will cause.

In the Union Territory of India, family life is and has always been governed by religious and customary beliefs. It is like a discipline that had been followed by our ancestors for generations. Yes, while I admit that there are flaws in these methods, but they have been very efficient and have helped us shape our society as it is today.

The UCC also violates Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which states that every citizen has a fundamental right to Freedom of Conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion. Most importantly, it violates the principle of Secularism mentioned in the Preamble. A secular state is not supposed to interfere with the religious beliefs of its citizens.

The UCC more often than not is mentioned during the elections in order to generate a vote bank for the politicians. In a country where due to the verdicts and ideologies of extreme right wing groups and Khap panchayats, honor killings are carried out and family members are disowned, one can predict the unrest and violence the decision to implement and enforce the UCC will cause.

In my opinion, the UCC, if enforced, will be used as a tool for minority bashing. As it is, their customs and practices are on the verge of being wiped out because of their small population. We all should be proud of the customs we follow and if by chance someone wants to break out of these rules, laws have been made for them. For example, if someone wants to get married outside the boundaries of their religion, the Parliament has enacted the secular laws of marriage (The special marriage act, 1954) that provides a system of marriage irrespective of the religion and faith followed by either party. There are other acts that protect the interests of these parties as well.

India has come a long way since Independence and is known for protecting and respecting the customs and beliefs of its people. We shouldnt ruin this image by implementing the UCC.


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